The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good

Day 3 of 7 • This day’s reading


The spiritual danger of forgetting your true identity 

When meeting someone for the first time, we want to know who they are. And by who they are, we mean what they do. We quickly define ourselves and others by the work we do. 

After watching friends go through major occupational transitions, I’ve been reminded that what I do is going to change one day. Who am I when I leave? I’ve realized how much of my identity is wrapped up in working for HOPE International, an organization that shares the Good News while helping create jobs for those in poverty.

When we root our identity in our work, we experience another spiritual danger of doing good. We can be so wrapped up in work that, as Justin Davis of RefineUs Ministries says, “You will be tempted to worship your calling more than you worship Christ.”

King David fascinates me. He was a young shepherd boy, anointed by a superstar prophet, and was told he would receive a great kingdom.  But then he found himself in the wilderness on the run from Saul, his nation’s leader. 

In desperation, he sought protection from the Philistines—his enemies. But realizing this wasn’t a bright idea, David then decided to act insane so they’d let him go. It doesn’t get much worse than standing in front of your enemy, dripping saliva from your mouth and acting like a lunatic. 

At one of the lowest points of his life, he wrote Psalm 34, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

David knew his Father—and that was enough. Yes, he’d lost his reputation. But whether he was slaying a giant or acting undignified in his enemies’ camp, he was a child of the King. His identity was firmly established. He knew God saw him as a son, and that meant he lacked nothing. 

Likewise, whether we are at the peak of our careers or have just left a position in disgrace, we can take comfort in how David dealt with his identity crisis. The key is to remember: Remember who God is. Remember His faithfulness. Remember His love.

Our identity is secure when it is rooted in Jesus. When we truly believe this, the grip performance has on our hearts begins to lessen.

What keeps you from letting God’s love define you? Busyness? Noise? Unrest? In a fast-paced world, it is work to slow down long enough to listen, to read Scripture, to pray, and to regularly remember who we are.

Reflection: In what do you find your identity? How can you better ground your identity in Christ, rather than in your career or your service?

Based on The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, by Peter Greer with Anna Haggard, published by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group (, 2014. Used by permission.